10 Reasons Why You Should Not Put Private Information on Facebook

by Anni Martin

Many people connect with friends and family on Facebook. In sharing with your social network, you are also posting information which can be seen by many other people beyond your approved friends. There are a number of reasons why posting personal and sensitive information may not be in your best interest.

Facebook Privacy Settings

The number one reason to hesitate when putting private information on Facebook is that your information may not stay private. While Facebook does have privacy settings, these can be always be modified by policy changes. In December 2012, an updated Facebook policy removed the ability for users to hide their Timeline from site searches.

Facebook Data Use Policy

Once you have agreed to Facebook’s legal terms and policies, you cannot alter the agreement, but Facebook can at any time. Be sure to read Facebook’s data use policy before signing up. Even if you cancel your account, says Snopes.com, Facebook still retains some rights to your material.

The Internet Is Forever

Many people do not realize that once you post something on Facebook, it is there essentially forever. Even if you delete the comment or picture, it can still be found in cached content. Digital information never really disappears, so don’t put something on Facebook you wouldn’t mind being plastered across a billboard in your neighborhood.


While you may post something only to friends, they can still copy or make a screen shot of your post and send it to others without your knowledge.

Search Engine Visibility

Data you make publicly visible (either intentionally or unknowingly through a FaceBook policy change) is captured by search engines such as Google and Bing. Through these search engines, someone may be able to view a cached copy of what you thought was private information without even logging into Facebook.

Identity Thieves

Another reason to avoid posting personal information is the danger of identity theft. People who want to “borrow” your identity can find information about you based on what you post to your Facebook page. According to Beth Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, if an identity thief knows your birthplace and birthday, he can use the information to help him discover your full Social Security number.

Social Engineering

Social engineering – defined by security group CSO as "the art of gaining access to buildings, systems or data by exploiting human psychology" – is a danger related to identity theft. The more you post about your likes, dislikes and interests, the easier it is for a scam artist to craft an email tailored to exploit that knowledge about you.

Burglars Love Facebook

The combination of your home address and your vacation plans can be of great benefit to potential robbers if the information is available on Facebook. Showing your friends your latest trip pictures is best done after you return from vacation.

Company Complaints

Posting some information about your company, such as your wages or working conditions, is speech protected under federal law by the National Labor Relations Board, but not all social media postings are protected. A BMW salesman posted a comment and picture about his dealership serving hot dogs and bottled water at an event, according to ABC News. While the comment was protected speech, the picture was not – and the salesman was fired.

Facebook and the Law

Facebook responds to law enforcement subpoenas, and information that appears on Facebook might possibly be used against you in a court of law. Law enforcement officials use Facebook as an investigative tool, and in some instances have even created fake accounts on Facebook to get access to a target's data.

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